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Established in 1979 as a research collaboration between Mahidol University (Thailand), Oxford University (UK) and the UK's Wellcome Trust, the Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) conducts targeted clinical trials and public health research that aim to discover and develop appropriate, affordable interventions that measurably improve the health of people living in resource-limited parts of the world.

Moru field

The Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit's main office and laboratories are located within the Faculty of Tropical Medicine at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, with MORU Units, study sites and collaborations across Thailand, Asia and Africa.

The core of MORU’s activities remains patient-centred clinical research, and the laboratory, mathematical and economic modelling work, and academic and logistical activities needed to support this.

Our geographically dispersed but integrated network afford us the ability to answer important public health questions in the resource-limited settings in which we work:

  • What are the best ways to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the prevalent infectious and nutritional diseases?
  • How can the survival of critically ill patients in these settings be improved?

Antimicrobial drug resistance in pathogenic bacteria and malaria parasites has reached crisis point in Southeast Asia. MORU works to determine:

  • How can we best treat patients infected with resistant pathogens?
  • What is the best way to reduce antibiotic usage and thus the selective pressure on bacteria?
  • What are the most ethical and effective tools and strategies to use in malaria elimination campaigns?
  • What are the most prevalent acute febrile illnesses, their causes and most effective treatments?
  • How can we improve medicine quality?

MORU’s work has led to strong and lasting collaborations with governments, international health agencies, hospitals, academic colleagues and communities across the globe, and supported the education and professional development of local health staff and medical researchers.

An Affiliated Research Centre (ARC) for the UK’s Open University, MORU hosts post-graduate and post-doctoral students from the University of Oxford (UK), Mahidol University (Thailand) and several other universities from across the globe.

MORU is generously supported with significant funding from the Wellcome Trust, our major funding partner. We also receive funding from other trusts and foundations, governments, and multi-lateral donors.

MORU Researchers

MORU Research Highlights

  • Important antimalarial drug DHA-piperaquine safe to use

    Posted 04/09/2018. DHA-piperaquine is an important antimalarial recommended by the WHO for the treatment of malaria, and an ideal candidate for mass use in malaria elimination. In a large meta-analysis of ~200,000 subjects, Dr Xin Hui Chan and colleagues find the risk of sudden unexplained death after DHA-piperaquine is extremely low and not higher than baseline, confirming the drug’s safety for the treatment and prevention of malaria.

  • Addressing challenges faced by insecticide spraying for the control of dengue fever

    Posted 24/07/18. A study from Bangkok by Professor Wirichada Pan-Ngum and colleagues shows accessing households for proper spraying was a problem for control dengue outbreaks. In addition, inefficient communications among the sectors from hospital to district offices led to inaccurate or missing patient addresses for spraying. Involving community networks help to improve public engagement with and participation in the programmes.

  • Risk-based reboot for global lab biosafety

    Posted 17/07/2018. This paper by Professor Stuart Blacksell and colleagues describes the first update to the WHO Laboratory Biosafety Manual in 15 years. The need to update international lab biosafety guidance is part of a broader initiative to globalize biosafety, emphasizing principles and approaches that are accessible to countries spanning a broad range of financial, technical and regulatory resources.

  • Comparison of the Cumulative Efficacy and Safety of Chloroquine, Artesunate, and Chloroquine-Primaquine in Plasmodium vivax Malaria

    Posted 03/07/2018. Chloroquine, the recommended treatment for vivax malaria, delays but does not prevent relapses. Primaquine is the only widely available drug that prevents relapses but it can induce haemolysis in patients with G6PD deficiency. Cindy Chu and colleagues showed that added to chloroquine, primaquine is very effective for relapse prevention, but should be used alongside quantitative G6PD testing.